Diablo Canyon 2 refuels in 48 days; seismic research continues

PG&E (NYSE:PCG) subsidiary Pacific Gas & Electric said March 28 that it had completed a regularly-scheduled nuclear refueling outage at Diablo Canyon Unit 2 in a plant record 48 days.

The outage started Feb. 3. Diablo Canyon’s two pressurized water reactor (PWR) units together produce about 2,300 MW net. Each reactor is refueled about 18 months. Unit 1 next scheduled outage is set for spring of 2014.

About 30 projects were completed during the 48-day window at Unit 2, in addition to standard maintenance. Crews performed about 12,000 outage-related activities, involving about one million hours of inspections, maintenance and equipment upgrades.

Major project work included replacing a portion of the Unit 2 reactor fuel, upgrading a crane system that moves key plant components, and installing a new digital Process Control System (PCS). The PCS monitors and controls various plant systems. The Diablo Canyon team set an industry record by completing the upgrade, which involved thousands of electrical connections, in less than 50 days.

“Diablo Canyon Power Plant plays a major role in helping PG&E deliver some of the nation’s cleanest electricity to its customers,” said PG&E Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer Ed Halpin. “The work performed during this and other planned outages supports our safe operation of the facility, and ensures a steady flow of affordable, reliable and carbon-free energy to more than three million Californians,” Halpin said.

During a planned outage, more than 1,000 trained supplemental workers from around the country are brought in to assist the plant’s nearly 1,500 employees, PG&E said.

Diablo Canyon suspended relicense application

Units 1 and 2 are currently licensed to run through 2024 and 2025 respectively. Diablo Canyon had actually started the process for seeking a 20-year license extension for each unit in 2011 when the Fukushima disaster occurred in Japan.

Diablo Canyon then suspended its pursuit of the license renewals while it commissioned an in-depth study on seismic issues at the plant located near Avila Beach, Calif.

That’s not the only major study going on concerning the two Diablo Canyon units.

A third party is researching how both Diablo Canyon and California’s other major nuclear complex, Edison International (NYSE:EIX) subsidiary’s Southern California Edison’s San Onofre plant, might comply with the state’s cooling water intake structure regulations.

A Diablo Canyon spokesperson expects the third party to complete the once-through cooling report by the end of 2013.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.